Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The 4th of July at Paris (the one in Las Vegas)

Our view from our chairs at the pool
We stayed at Paris on the Las Vegas strip with our kids over the July 4th weekend. We have always liked the location of Paris on the strip. It is directly across from the Bellagio and somewhat central. It is also a smaller hotel so once you return to the hotel for the evening, you are almost to your room. This isn't the case at other Vegas hotels. Also, there is a monorail stop. 

Paris is a little older as there is always something new going up on the strip. Now that isn't to be misunderstood that the hotel is “old,” just getting older for the strip. However, this didn't bother us at all.

We stayed on a non-smoking floor. Overall, our room was clean. However, the bathroom had wallpaper that was peeling off and rust was on the air vent. Certainly, there could have been some touch ups to the room that would have made a big difference. We had a view of the pool, the Eiffel Tower, and even part of the Bellagio water show. 
View of the pool from our room.  You can also see to the left the view of the Eiffel Tower (I'm not sure why I didn't take a photo of that from the room)
View of Bellagio water show from our room
The best part about our room view was that we were tired the night of July 4th, so we ordered room service and watched the fireworks from our room. It was the perfect view!

The breakfast buffet at Paris is extensive. There is a great selection for everyone.

The pool is great for families. It is large and even on a crowded weekend (like the 4th of July) there was room for everyone to play and swim.

TravelLady Rating: We like Paris. It was a great choice for a family visit. We felt safe; and it really is in the heart of the action on the strip.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Marriott Tempe at The Buttes

This is not the fanciest place you will stay as far as Marriotts go. However, it is clean, has a unique atmosphere, a fun pool, and the staff is nice. As I mentioned the hotel has a unique atmosphere; buildings are placed in a hillside with small caves. Some of these small caves have hot tubs. The pool has a great desert feel. The landscaping is native to the desert as well.

The breakfast buffet was included in our room rate, and I admit – VERY IMPRESSIVE! We could select from a variety of fresh fruits, cold cereal, hot cereal, an omelette station, bacon, sausage, eggs, boiled eggs, breakfast potatoes, toast, juice, coffee, and fresh waffles with toppings.

The room is what I refer to in this blog as a “standard room”...meaning a bathroom, 2 queen beds, and room for a small desk. It also had a mini fridge and a safe. The room felt a little old and worn; however, it did not feel dirty.

We only stayed one night, and I didn't make it to the gym. Therefore, I am not able to report on that.

Unlike the breakfast buffet, the food served at the pool was unimpressive, and the service was slow. The pool is large and there was plenty of seating while we were there. There is a pool at the slide, but my boys said it was slow. This kid aquarium (part of the pool) was a fun place for photos.

If you are looking for a newer hotel with all the bells and whistles, this is not the place for you.  Yet, if you are looking for an authentic Phoenix hotel, you may want to check this out.

TravelLady Rating: We would stay here again and make sure our room rate included the breakfast buffet.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 7 - Norwegian Getaway

There is a string of posts about our trip on Norwegian's Getaway. We went on the 7-night cruise which stopped in St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau. Our stateroom was 13234 which was considered a family cabin with balcony. To follow along or get caught up click these links: {What to Pack}, {Preparing for the Getaway}, {Day 1}, {Day 2}, {Day 3}; {Day 4}, {Day5}, {Day 6}; below is the review of day 7.

Day 7 - Nassau

Let me start this entry by being honest and sharing that Nassau is usually one of our least favorite ports on any cruise. We lived in Florida for years, and Nassau was an easy trip for a long weekend. Surprisingly, on this cruise, Nassau was the best day we had as a family!

Our kids love Atlantis on Paradise Island. So we decided to budget for a trip to Atlantis. There are two ways to go to Atlantis while you are on a cruise. I suggest pricing out both and seeing what is best.
  • Option 1 – Book the cheapest room you can find at Atlantis and check in as a guest, even though you aren't staying there. Comfort Suites Paradise Island is also a part of Atlantis. This is where we usually find the lowest rates for the resort. The older parts of Atlantis are somewhat run down, and these are going to be the least expensive rooms. But just keep reminding yourself that you are headed back to the cruise ship to sleep. When figuring out the total, don't forget to add in all the hotel taxes as well as your transfer to and from the hotel.
  • Option 2 – Book the Atlantis excursion through your cruise ship. This will include your transfers.

On Friday morning, we woke up and went for a run on the jogging track and then headed to breakfast at the buffet. The ship didn't arrive in Nassau until noon. So we had time to play on the pool deck for a bit. Since we didn't arrive until noon, it was a little disappointing to know we had to be back on the ship by 6:30. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, we wish the Tortola port was the noon to 6:30 and the Nassau was the longer port stop. In efforts to make the best of the time we had, our family was one of the first families off the boat at 12:15. We got in a line on the pier that ended up being very long for the excursion to Atlantis. (I guess we weren't the only ones with this idea.) We received arm bands and were shuttled over to Atlantis to play in the pools, slides, and lazy river. We had a great day together as a family. It was nice to get off the ship and actually be able to play in a large pool for awhile. We stayed as long as we could at Atlantis, leaving enough time to visit the extensive aquarium there, before heading back to the ship after a full day of much fun!
Here's our photo of M & B at Atlantis.  Everyone has to take a photo in the "big chair."
This was our last night on the ship. We had reservations at Moderno. The kids wanted to go to Splash Academy for the Farewell Pajama Party. We actually took the kids to the buffet for their dinner, dropped them off at Splash Academy, and went to Moderno kid-free. We asked to sit outside. The ship was already cruising, and there was a wonderful breeze! Moderno is a Brazilian steakhouse. They had a salad bar. I am not always a fan of a salad bar, but this was amazing! Oh, salad bar, where had you been my entire cruise??? If I had known about it, I would have frequented that salad bar all cruise long. We had been warned not to fill up on the salad bar as the meat part of the meal was coming. Yet, it was difficult not was so, so yummy! Just think of all the wonderful and uncommon items on a salad bar you love, and it probably was there! When diners are done with the salad bar and want meat to start coming to their table, the coaster on the table is flipped to the green side. Trays of meat will come one after another. It was a fun experience.

After dinner, TravelMan and I walked around the deck and enjoyed the last night of our vacation. We also had to go back to the stateroom and put out our checked suitcases, so that they would be in the baggage claim the next morning. When we picked our kids up from Splash Academy, they were so confused about their feelings. I think they were shocked to feel sad the cruise was coming to an end. For the three years prior, we have cruised with Disney's cruise line. And we have always loved, loved, loved it! I think all of us were surprised that Norwegian was running a close race with our experience on Disney. (Remember that stateroom attendant I told you about at the beginning of my week's review??? He was really the only major let down on the ship.) As the boys were falling asleep that night, they told us that they want to go back on the Norwegian Getaway next summer instead of the Disney Dream. For a family who has adored their Disney cruises, this is saying a lot about the Getaway!

The morning of day 8, we woke up and got off the ship. (Wah!) We really enjoyed the cruise! We got our luggage, went through customs, contacted Uber, and off we went to our next destination for the day.